hafacenturyncounting

Motivated by a lack of material.

It’s Not Contagious

As I try to understand all that I feel and all I think regarding this existence that is now mine, crazy thoughts cross my mind. I guess, I am allowed a bit of crazy. No worries there, I have plenty.

The Grief; I wish someone could answer my questions or show me the direction I should be traveling in. I have heard the endless statement saying, ” There is no correct way..” I wonder if this is actually true or is it that the grief, in and of itself, is simply NOT correct. I KNOW I believe my source of grief just seems so very wrong, so very incorrect. I need a “do-over” I tell myself, for this was clearly an error.

We, the afflicted..we need to be sad, many times we want to be sad. As strange as that sounds it is a mechanism by which we will, perhaps be able to use to come through this thing.  YES our route is plotted, although in many respects it is NOT defined by nothing more than we must head straight through the pain.

We do hope that we do not run you away. We mask our pain and sadness, we avoid contact when we know it is all encompassing. However, as terrible as this is for us, you need to know it is not something we can pass on to you, there is no contagion involved. It may be superstition imposing itself upon you, it could be karma. or the teachings of your faith. Know this for certain, we would not do something to trigger what we are going through to you, even if was possible. Unlike the yawns of others or a wonderful laugh session..this belongs to us, the members of the club no one wants to be a part of, exclusively. We need you, we need you to witness us so that we can come back from this terrible journey and be there for another who will need to have the benefit of  someone who has been where they must go. Through the pain, toss out a lifeline, please.

 

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Focus

I look around and see so many things that NEED to be done. I walk past items that need to be addressed. My phone has the alerts blowing up. I sit or stand in a stationary position unable to move, unable to think, unable to function. I wait for the items to take care of themselves, knowing full well that is NOT going to happen.

The laundry is getting done but the folding and hanging is not happening. The dishes are in the sink, but they still need to be washed or put in the dishwasher. The house is vacuumed, the pets are fed, these things need attention daily without a thought. Now, they require a plan which includes reminders. I realize this is perhaps how the hoarders and people we deem as strange may have begun. Just a simple state of being confused, or hurt, or stuck. Maybe it was tragedy that invaded their existence, maybe it was illness, maybe they just became overwhelmed and had no one or nothing to motivate them, to bring them back.

Searching for the place where concentration used to be, the place where things used to be accomplished, I now question whether I was ever able to make anything happen. I have this question because seemingly, getting things done is virtually impossible.

Riding along side concentration, or lack there of, is joy. They both appear to be getting lost, and a collision course with despair is clearly ahead. No one wants to be in these places; and for certain you don’t want to have people YOU care about in these places with or because of YOU.  Know your friends and/or loved ones are  enthralled in a battle, a battle of which they have never encountered before, and of which the outcome is still quite unclear.

Sundays Are Hard

I ask myself how many more will I count. Today as I start this piece I remind myself only 5 weeks have passed. I sigh in disbelief and exhaustion, knowing that if things remain as they are now, there are many more to come..

I was born at 5 A.M. on an October Sunday in 1959. Some 57 years later in 2016 Mom passed away at approximately  5 A.M. in October on a Sunday. The latest blow; my dear youngest son, Jay passed away on a Sunday morning in January of 2018, a mere 30 years old. Sundays are hard and lately they seem to be coming at me in an alarmingly rapid rate, or so it seems.

There is a poem called Monday’s Child… it came to mind because I  am seemingly having some difficult experiences on Sundays. However, according to the poem and to paraphrase I, as a child born on the Sabbath, am blessed. Well I will leave that idea open for review.

I tell myself, I am okay, I tell myself, I must go on.  I wonder from day to day, is any of this true. How can it be? Every tear that falls, and they are bountiful, reminds me of the pain I want to go away but it will not.  Sometimes I tell myself do what you used to do on Sundays. Do what you grew up doing, do what feels right. Let me share something with you..NOTHING FEELS RIGHT. Sunday is a marker, no matter how I try when 3 A.M. rolls around some how my eyes are fixed on the clock. My semi-awake state tells me 19 minutes and __ weeks ago my child floated away from life as I know it. Sundays are hard.

Marriage Anonymous- Part 1

” Hi, my name’s Felicia and I am unhappily-married..”

GROUP: “Hi Felicia

You look up and 20 years will have passed. You find yourself searching, wondering how and why you are both in these respective places. It didn’t start out like this, it certainly is not what you planned. This venture had high priority and success rate probability, written all over it.

There was the five-year-plan, but we were younger and “in love”; we thought it would be like this forever, based on the current feeling.

I’d feel smothered and longed for alone time, but sampling alone time versus existing in that state are two very different things.

Would you be mad if you woke up one morning and found your mate sitting at the breakfast table writing out in an”as-a-matter-of-fact” manner, a letter telling you she was tired of the marriage. I think you know when you haven’t been a good spouse. I think that we all know what companionship is about. Yet I also know there are people from past generations who foster archaic ideas about what the marriage relationship is about. These are the same people who would adamantly tell you their marriage was good  and this would be based on the fact that they themselves are happy. They would speak for their spouse without considering that individual’s feelings. The logic would  fly out the door so-to-speak.

I clearly saw myself in a two bedroom condo or apartment. No pets and no husband. There is a sigh in my soul. There is a memory of hopeful, a shadow of happiness, the remnants of failure, and residue of indifference. It is soiled with the reality of now.

Felicia looked around the room as she spoke. The faces were worn and gray, this was an aura not a physical state. She continued. I asked him to go to therapy many times, his answer was always basically the same. I guess I always knew he was being kind( of sorts) marrying me, he could have whomever he wanted but he took me instead. Time of being unappreciated, rejected took it’s toll. It was subtle mental abuse. I am not a screamer. One day I woke up and I didn’t care how he felt about me, because I realized he never cared about me, like I did about him and our relationship. I wasn’t happy, but I was now aware. We periodically would argue, more now than ever before. He’d ask, ” Why did you stay?” He was being cruel; he knew my self-esteem and love for him would not allow me to go and therefore he walked all over me. He had a knack for cruel and he only showed it to me. Felicia fumbled around with her hands and was now silent. Then she broke the silence with, ” I think… I am ready for the next chapter.”

Now to get this chain attached to the cement block off! Felicia was now back in the real world, the place where her imaginary support group was just that..imaginary. However, it was a good idea. Some real ideas and thoughts surfaced from that brief retreat to “LaLa-Land”. Trouble is ideas were never her problem, the execution of them was her stumbling block. Aidan walked into the dining room and sat down in front of her. He sat down and had an annoyed look on his face. There was bitter silence between them for about seven minutes. He looked at his watch then at Felicia. Felicia began, ” It is time…

Bad Things….

Every single day, I now think about the statement which begins with “Bad things”. Yes Bad things happen to good people, but that does NOT mean we accept this truth. It destroys all we have been taught, all we have been led to believe and it makes us question all we THINK we know.

Growing up we learned of consequences and rewards. We learned very early, very quickly we wanted to be on the receiving end of the good stuff. We learned if you do the “right” thing, if you follow the rules and instructions, this was the recipe for success. Who among us did NOT want to be on the receiving end of the positives in life.

However, for no apparent reason, against the odds, contrary to what you have learned observed, thought, a curve ball is thrown and there is an upset. You turn to all you know for a reasonable explanation.. and depending on how far away from what you KNOW this is, you may just look for ANY explanation. Just when you thought you had this thing called life figured out, you thought you had the formula, this happens. Your very soul is challenged and put to test. Then the questions begin to arise. What is it really about? Is it worth it at all? What motivates us to go on in spite of these things we deem as mishaps, errors, unfortunate events?

I can offer you the obvious; Life happens. Yet that is not even acceptable to me. I want something more. I want to know how and why we are expected to go on . We do not understand and we want to. We need to make sense of this thing called LIFE.

Shall I lie to you and say, when someone wrongs me I am satisfied to allow fate or God or both to deal with this individual or at the very least feel comfort in knowing no matter what, I did the right thing and they will have to face what ever justice there is. HELL NO! I want and need to see justice served, even though that does NOT always happen. Therefore, I go out of my way to do the right thing, I avoid stepping of others toes, I keep my opinionated negative views under wraps, as much as possible. Now that last part is key; “as much as possible”, by whose standard, by whose gauge do I base my statement on? Certainly not mine, for I am flawed and sway in an unfair direction.

Then the unthinkable happens; the bad things find me and I get handed a punishment so very unfair and there is no appeal available. I am angry, I am hurt and I have NO ONE to direct my protest to. Then I step back and ask, was this a punishment or was it just LIFE, life happening.

Jay Steven Russell -A Few Things You Need To Know

Born Friday February 13,1987 at 13:31 a leap year in Inglewood California’s Centinela Hospital.  He graduated from Northview High School in Duluth, Georgia May 2005 where he played Varsity football and was sought after by 37 colleges and universities including Princeton. Jay chose NOT to play football and in December of 2009 he obtained a dual degree in Politics and Sociology from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia where he ran cross-country track. He worked for the U.S Department of the Treasury as a Tax Examiner. On Sunday January 14, 2018 at 03:19 he departed this life in a way you would hope to, he was with the love of his life and he quietly slipped away without pain. He was healthy, athletic, and happy; his big strong heart simply stopped beating. We are told sometimes that just happens.

Jay was a good person who loved Jessica Howard, his family, and his friends.

Jay was right-handed.

Jay’s favorite color was yellow.

Jay wore a size 13 shoe.

Jay’s favorite bird was a crow.

Jay loved cold weather.

Jay loved to cook.

Jay had beautiful teeth.

Jay was a kind soul.

Jay was thoughtful.

Jay had a pet cat, her name is Kitt.

Jay’s favorite dog was a Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Jay was loved by his family and friends.

Jay loved and respected animals.

Jay also loved the Arts, the environment, and Circa Survive.

Jay was a writer and a critic; he had a lot to share for his short years on this Earth.

Jay was bigger than life in stature and presence.

Left to carry his memory in their hearts are his immediate family; father and mother Wes and Eileen; his big brother Carlton; his sister-in-law Destini; his niece Addison; his nephew Kai; aunts and uncles by blood and contact  notably Anna of Las Vegas and Arthur and Al of Los Angeles, “Aunties” Kim and Denise; His lady, his love Jessica Howard; his “grandmother” Momma Daisy  and his godmother Yvette. Additionally his cousins, a hosts of “other” family members, friends, colleagues and co-workers. Too many names to list.

If you look too closely at a star it’s beauty can blind you, Jay’s light will FOREVER shine within us.

Loss -Part One

So you are angry, but who is your anger directed at? There is this empty feeling and there is nothing that can fill that void. Are you in a dream? From one minute to the next I am on the verge of tears. My child was a source of joy, yet he was taken from me. How am I supposed to think of this any other way?

This process is terrible, it is going on an unplanned journey to a place you did NOT want to go to, not knowing what to expect.  My son had a good death” quick, pain free and with his love.  In my effort to comfort myself I tell myself this time and time again. Yet I am now painfully aware that I do NOT have a place or a person to direct this anger in me at. In saying and believing this, I have only the unknown. There is no comfort in that.

Am I running away from the pain, damn right I am. Am I trying to go through the pain to feel better, absolutely. Am I running straight to the pain, yes an affirmative response again. The problem is no matter what door I decide to go to at any given time, there is just plain old hurt behind it. I want the pain, the hurt, the anguish, the sorrow to stop. The problem is I FEAR that when these sad and awful feelings leave me, I will be walking away from one who was a source of sheer joy for me all of his days

Sometimes We Just Know

When my mother passed away there was sadness, but in her passing there was a sense of relief. Mom and I were close. When I became and adult we were friends. It was nice, she was my mom who I loved and respected, but she was the friend who knew things about me that I didn’t, things I had forgotten. Like one time we were out shopping and I laughingly told her how much my husband hated shopping with me and how nice it was to do something small like shop with my mom and NOT worry that she was bored.  I told her how he said I would be in search of a particular item and find it almost in the first place I looked but I would abandon it, in search of another one that might be better, then I would ultimately come back to that first item. She laughed and told me about a time when I was a little girl and she and I were out shopping for Easter shoes. She told me I tried on every shoe in the store that was my size that I did not like anything. She said she told me after all possibilities were exhausted she turned to me and said,” I guess you won’t be getting any new shoes for Easter..” she said I looked at her in shock and quickly grabbed the very first shoes I tried on and handed them to her. She said she did not know what my problem was and I said I have no idea, but I also wonder why SHE was being so gracious on that day, because Mom was not a game-player.  I do know with that little story she in effect told me that my shopping habits go waaaay back to childhood.

Now Mom would no longer be in pain, she would no longer be confined, she would no longer be confused, she would no longer be unhappy.  Yet, I remember thinking why she no longer  wanted to be here. What was it that made my mother give up, because she was stubborn and she was a fighter. I knew it was something and I knew it was something, SHE could not endure. My rock, the lady who taught me to be strong, there was something she did not want to face. So Mom left us quietly October 30, 2016 and while I managed to brush the question aside, it lingered just beneath the surface of my consciousness.

2017 rolled in; I had made it through my first Christmas without my mom, but February was on the horizon. We had so many birthdays in February, so many good times, so many memories. I wondered if this would be my breakdown point. It was not; maybe because I did not concentrate on the loss of she and my father, but celebrated the people who were still here with me that shared that February birth month my Godson, my youngest son and so many friends, friends who considered family from our street in Inglewood.

Late in 2017 things became complex. Illnesses came from out-of-the-blue and they were illnesses that would likely bring about loss. By the time the anniversary of my moms passing came around I was too preoccupied with the business of living to fall apart. There were millions of questions, where did this come from, could we have done something different to avoid this condition.  The answers were vague and really rather pointless. Things are never as they seem, we can almost never make plans, for the way we think it should be often turns on a dime.

We prepared to do battle now and there were going to be tough ones ahead. Two rounds of chemo therapy,  test after test, clearance after clearance for surgery, low and behold it was Christmas again. My dear friend told me to make this a good one, take lots of pictures and video. A polite way of saying this may be the last one like this for “someone” would not see another. We always had great Christmases this would be no different. I would heed my friend’s warning, but not interfere with the mood of the holiday. I was prepared for the change to take place; I did not know the exact time, season, or manner but I was fairly certain I knew who.

I was wrong in focusing on who, that when the loss came it was beyond devastating. 14 days into the new year, after a fantastic holiday, after a wonderful vacation, after things were ready to move forward, they came to a screeching, abrupt halt. We were all looking for/ looking at something, we were all aware of something but we were misdirected. We all knew something was going to happen, we just did NOT know what.  Was this what mom could not live with/through? Was this why my friend told me to make this the best Christmas ever? Something turned on a dime for us all, but the truth is sometimes you do just know. Even when you don’t want to.

Meggie, M’Lynn, Florida, and Me

As I did my best to navigate through yet another day feeling some-kinda-way, I thought of strong characters, I thought of women and I thought of our relationships with God. Eve did us in ladies, and the sooner we accept this the better we will be.

Enter my first character Megan “Meggie” Cleary. Meggie is a favorite character from the novel, “The Thornbirds”.  Meggie is the pretty, lone daughter in a family of strapping boys living on a well-to-do aunt’s station in Australia. Her life’s significance is summed up by her mother, Fiona,” What is a daughter but someone to make the same mistakes you already made”. Wow..But was her mother right(read the book to see the similarities). Meggie lived out her mother’s life without ever really knowing her story. Ultimately, Meggie fell in love with and seduced a Holy Man..a Cardinal. She went on to give birth to his son, unbeknownst to him, and settle into being happy with her chosen life.  Never truly having the man she loved, but having a love relationship of sorts, having their son who was proof of such an intense beautiful love, that gave her a sense of being contented.

M’Lynn Eatenton lived a bit of a charmed life. Settled into ultimate suburbia; small town life in Louisiana. Married, children, comfortable. Her only snag was her diabetic daughter, but with this strong stable mother in her life her Shelby was virtually unaffected. Until Shelby fell in love, married, and was advised NOT to have children. She of course did and while she gave M’Lynn a beautiful healthy grandson, Shelby’s health suffered.

Finally, we have Florida Evans the struggling matriarch of a 1970’s Chicago family. With a husband who is a constant victim of the economy and three children to raise in a housing project, Florida utilizes her common sense, street smarts, and faith in the Lord to keep her family together. The shows ratings keep the family on air for years but the family’s bad-luck streak seems unending. Finally, life is looking up for this hardworking do-on-their-luck but ever faithful family. Husband James gets a job “down south”. So-long Chicago.

Many a Christian will tell you God loves us all. Well God may love us all, but he is also pretty angry with all us girls. I am not being funny, because I do not have a lot to laugh about right now. While the three characters I mentioned are fictional , there is a degree of relate-able realism attached to each of them for me. Perhaps you can relate as well. No good deed goes unpunished was what we “jokingly” said of the Postal Service. I submit do we as the “descendants of Eve ever get a full pass for what  she did. The ultimate betrayal, the deed that DAMNED mankind and additionally cursed women, but where is the forgiveness

Here is the end game. Meggie loses her beloved son to the priesthood by his choice, and to life by divine intervention? While saving someone he drowns. Meggie defied God by taking that which was not available to her..a Holy man. Meggie said God was greedy. M’Lynn gives her precious daughter one of her kidneys to make her life better after Shelby’s give out but she falls into a diabetic coma and is eventually taken off life support. M’Lynn questioned God telling Annelle she’d rather have her daughter here on Earth with her. Florida in the midst of a farewell party receives a telegram that bluntly tells of her dear husbands death in an auto accident. In the midst of brief favor as well as it’s shadow, Florida cursed God..”DamnDamnDamn”.

I am overcome with grief. I am searching for answers.  I say in my quest, then there is me. I have always been aware of my short comings, my bad behavior, and I was willing to take the responsibility for these things. Just as the characters I spoke of, I know what I have done, I know how I feel, and now I must find a way to live with it. For I  too mistakenly thought I had served my  penance.

 

What Are We Smiling About

It had been exactly 2 weeks since my beloved youngest son left us, when I started this piece and could NOT finish it. As I looked over photos taken at his memorial, I see smiles. I remember when my dad/ his grandfather was alive and how we used to laugh at dad taking so many pictures at funerals. As kids we though, “Dad is just weird.” Life happens and time passes, you realize that these funerals, last rights, memorial services are truly times to celebrate. They are gatherings that may not have happened had the loss NOT occurred. You make promises that this will not be the last time you are in contact with this relative or that long absent friend; no matter how well intended, you may not see one another until yet another passing happens.

What are we smiling about, my mind scans the faces. Some of us just reacted to the camera. Some of us reacted to a feeling. Others felt the love and comfort of being with people who would hold us up when we thought we would fall.

What are we smiling about. I can tell you from the moment he came into my life Jay gave me joy.  I smiled because Jay truly would have been upset to see me sad or crying. All he wanted was for people he loved and cared about to be happy. If he could facilitate that he did, if he could not he encouraged them to look around and within to find that happiness. Jay found happiness, and that was all he needed.

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